Carbon dioxide gas can be toxic to the humans. It increases the temperature of the earth and causes holes in earth’s ozone layer. But scientists from Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee accidentally found a new approach to converting carbon dioxide gas into something useful. And this material worked. They converted CO2 gas in Ethanol. The ethanol is commonly known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol.
Lead author Adam Rondinone said, “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.”
The casual catalyst is actually made of carbon, copper, and nitrogen. All this material are placed on the top of the semiconductor. Once the system was completely built, scientists dropped it in a water bath. They then started bubbling CO2 through the bath. After that turned on power for electrolysis and got 63 percent yield of ethanol when it was all over.
Scientists also used graphene nanostructure sheets. These sheets are full of bonded carbon atoms and mimics the unexpected success.
Extreme tech noted, “The catalyst surface is a high wrinkled graphene sheet with carbon nano-hooks. These spikes allowed for plenty of room for the catalytic surface to do its work. And as compared to expensive or rare Platinum, it makes a better option.”
Rondinone said, “By using common materials, but arranging them with nanotechnology, we figured out how to limit the side reactions and end up with the one thing that we want.”
Scientists noted, “This energy is not infinite, nor is it clean. The reaction still requires electricity for electrolysis. It needs some way of managing the hydrogen released during the reaction. However, this could be one step closer to reducing the atmospheric Carbon dioxide and decreasing the farmland dedicated to ethanol production.”
Now, scientists are planning to improve the complete production rate. They are studying for the catalyst’s behavior.